It took 12 games, but the Michigan Wolverines finally played a game that saw them on the losing end in a 75-59 blowout loss at Minnesota on Saturday.
The Wolverines were without senior guard Eli Brooks (foot), which put sixth-man Chaundee Brown into the starting lineup. Brown led Michigan in scoring with 14 points, while Isaiah Livers added 11 on 4-of-11 shooting. The Wolverines shot 39 percent from the floor.
The Gophers were led by the duo of Liam Robbins and Marcus Carr, who combined to score 39 points.
Michigan went into the locker room down 30-23, which felt like a godsend given the way they had played to start the game. They had a chance to get the deficit down to four points in the second half, but a Minnesota scoring run helped them extend the lead and put the game away.
Brooks’ absence had a chain reaction
Not having Brooks was difficult. His absence affected everything that took place on Saturday from the lack of ball movement, poor defensive moments, and some bad rotations. Howard will take the blame for that, but losing a senior leader and defensive stopper was a rough draw.
Mike Smith, Franz Wagner, and Livers combined to shoot 7-for-26 from the field and it is hard to win that way. Michigan needed more from its experienced players and nobody looked ready to play on Saturday.
This was the first game of the season where it felt like Dickinson was a non-factor. Robbins got the better of this matchup on Saturday and the freshman just never looked comfortable.
He only played 23 minutes and the leash on him felt a bit too short. We are almost two months into a season where he has established himself as one of the best centers in college basketball. This will be a good learning experience, but it does feel like he has earned a bit more leeway to this point. He dominated the showdown with Robbins 10 days ago and water found its level on Saturday.
Get this one out of the way, move forward
Michigan went almost two months into the season without the bitter taste of defeat. They were living a charmed life and due for a setback. What happened in the loss on Saturday is ultimately only a concern if it becomes a pattern.
The Wolverines had 20 turnovers and the entire starting lineup was wiped out due to poor performances and an injury. This feels like an anomaly. The loss only dropped Michigan one spot on KenPom from fourth to fifth in the country, so if the data does not see this as an outlook-altering loss, we probably should not either.
Next up for Michigan is a rematch against Maryland at home on Tuesday night. The Wolverines beat the Terrapins by a score of 84-73 on New Year's Eve.